TikTok, choose my college

Jessi Schlewitt, R3 Editor-In-Chief

As college decision day approaches, my TikTok feed fills with desperate high school seniors urging their viewers to weigh in on their personal college decisions. While I normally sit on the sidelines of TikTok trends, my own desperation forced me to cave. I filmed a short video of the universities I was deciding between and watched as my comments section filled with responses of where I should attend in the fall.

Typically, I am not one to seek the opinions of complete strangers, especially not for a decision as pivotal as college. But, as university after university closed its campus and canceled accepted students days, I found no other solution than to plead for the advice of random users. 

I resorted to this admittedly ludicrous means of decision-making in hopes of advice, but expected the reaction to be pretty negligible; perhaps all four of my followers would drop a like at most. If anyone were to leave a comment, the likelihood that it would be constructive was slim to none. 

To my surprise, unknown users answered my call for help. Some attended the schools in question and offered to privately message with me on the app to discuss their experience. Others lived near the schools and noted their experiences growing up close to the college town. 

While many comments were constructive, a few criticized the potential schools by magnifying their negatives with baseless claims. I returned to the comments section to see a new assertion from @user592605301 that the same campus life revered by @user091491842 was actually miserable, and that the other universities were clear winners. 

These comments left me feeling uneasy, especially when the criticized school was one I was leaning towards. The very few negative comments stuck in my mind much more than the more abundant positive ones.

Nevertheless, I came to my senses: I was not going to leave my future in the hands of an app, so I continued to conduct thorough research on each of the schools, just as I had before posting my TikTok. However, without a campus visit to meet students and professors face-to-face, it became difficult to picture myself anywhere at all. A comment read, “Choose the one that feels like home,” but how was I to know where my next home was when I couldn’t even get through my front door?

Sure, the TikTok trend was pretty ridiculous, and I’m aware that there were both positive and negative comments that were unreliable. But, in retrospect, it’s not all that absurd to want to connect with a variety of people while cooped up at home and staring at campus stock photos. After all, it doesn’t hurt to hear from new voices, even if those voices could be 10-year-olds on their mom’s iPhone.